Declaration on Defending Media Freedom Launched

A Dhaka Declaration was launched ON Sunday to defend media freedom, the safety of journalists and the rights of people from the grassroots to international institutions. 

The declaration came ahead of the second virtual 'National Conference for Media Freedom-2020' to be held on 16 November. 

Canada and Botswana will co-host the conference, which will include a platform to reinforce the collective efforts of journalists and media workers, civil society and governments to protect media freedom worldwide. 

The Dhaka Declaration was established on the basis of the recommendations put forward by the participants in the virtual consultation organized by ARTICLE 19 Bangladesh and South Asia on 2 November in collaboration with the Canadian High Commission and the British High Commission in Dhaka on Defending Media Freedom for Democracy and Citizen's Rights in Bangladesh. 

The declaration was signed by more than 140 human rights defenders, human rights organizations, local and national journalists, activists, law scholars, professors and members of civil society until 14 November, a media release said. 

The consultation was attended by a wide range of experts, including journalists, media organisations, international organizations, heads of international missions and embassies, scholars, lawyers, writers, advocates, human rights defenders, women and oppressed classes of journalists, youth leaders and members of civil society, who discussed how to overcome the problems of media freedom and freedom. 

A number of topics related to media freedom and civic space in Bangladesh were addressed in the Dhaka Declaration. 

It highlighted three main issues: prevention, defense and prosecution; four main priorities: freedom of the media and democracy; security of journalists and the right to information (RTI); Gender and Social inclusion; and Youth Leadership Building to claim civic space.

The statement sent to the Global Media Freedom Conference promised to stand together to eradicate rules, regulations and government policies that inhibit press freedom directly and indirectly. 

It vowed to work together to provide women journalists with a safe, harassment-free environment and to stand against the laws and actions that limit journalists' voices. 

It also pledged to ensure that youth involvement in the public space is secure and to increase their participation in the processes of civic engagement and decision-making. 

Recommendations included in the Declaration call on the State, civil society, associations of journalists, media outlets, academics and national and global leaders to formulate and enact laws to ensure the prevention, security and harassment of journalists in Bangladesh with the four priority issues of media freedom and open civil space.

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